Biking is a great way to get around, stay in shape, and have fun. But it's important to keep your bike with basic bike maintenance so you can continue to enjoy all the benefits of cycling. This guide provides basic tips for bike maintenance that will help you keep your bike running smoothly.
Before You Ride Check The Air in Your Tires
It's important to check your tires before you ride for a couple of reasons: faulty air pressure causes 75% of all flat tires and under-inflated tires wear out more quickly.Check your tire pressure (including the spare) at least once a month and before long trips. Keep in mind that most mountain bikes need more air than street bikes and that higher quality tires require less frequent checking. Also keep an eye on your tread; if it is worn down or slick, it may be time for new ones.Check the tire pressure by removing the valve cap and placing a dime across it. If you can see all of Washington's head, you need more air. Fill your tires to 40-60 psi (4-6 bars). You might want to write down how many pounds per square inch your tires were pumped up to so you don't over-inflate them next time.
Before Every Ride Check Your Brakes
If your brakes are wet or squeaky, they probably aren't working properly. This can cause accidents if you ride too fast down hills (or on crowded sidewalks.) Even though brakes get dirty, they should be cleaned very regularly—especially if you use them in wet conditions. Use dish soap and warm water on both the brake pads and the rims. This will help brake components last longer.Check your brake pads by placing a finger on one of them and pulling backward with moderate pressure. If the wheel spins, the pads are worn down too much for proper braking. You should have one or two millimeters of clearance between the pad and rim when you squeeze it together with your fingers (try this on both sides.) If the pads are badly worn down, they need to be replaced. Spent ones can usually be taken to bike shops or recycling centers for disposal; these places may also carry new ones if needed.Wipe off your rims using wet wipes, dolomite powder, or dish soap (dish soap is great because it's gentle and can be used to clean your bike too.) It's best not to use water because it contains minerals that can corrode the metal rims.
Bike Frame: Keep It Straight and Tight
Your bike frame is key to a safe and enjoyable ride, so you need to keep it in working condition. Make sure that the tire rods aren't too loose; tighten them if they are (using a wrench). You should check these rods at least once per month or every 500 miles (whichever comes first). This is especially important for those riding with shocks because rods may loosen up more quickly due to their bouncing motion.Check the bolts on your handlebars, seat post, brakes, pedals, derailleur, wheels, etc. Tighten them if they are loose, using the appropriate size wrench or another tool. It's a good idea to carry tools with you when biking so that you can make quick repairs and adjustments as needed.
Cleaning Your Bike
After using your bike for a month or so, it's a good idea to give it a wash. Dirt and sweat can build up on the frame and components, causing rusting and making things less efficient. To clean your bike: remove the seat post, spray paint/grease/dirt with water from a hose or bucket, scrub with dish soap (or use appropriate cleaning products), rinse thoroughly, WD-40 all bolts to prevent corrosion, and dry off with towels.
Bikes are an incredible means of transportation. They save money, help the environment, are fun to ride, and can give you a better workout than public transit or driving. Maintaining your bike also takes very little time or money. With just a few minutes per month, you can keep it running for years.This guide is intended to provide basic maintenance instructions for those who have little knowledge of bikes. If you know nothing about bikes, start here first before attempting anything.